EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - When the sun is out and the temperatures warm, the sound of the Eau Claire Municipal Band fills Owen Park.
But underneath the green grass between the bandshell and playground sits a layer of soil with a history that goes back more than a century.
"The Owen Park was comprised of one building which had the rotored ovens, which produced the gas purifying equipiment," said LeRoy Wilder, a Project Manager with Xcel Energy.
That building fueled the gas powered street lights and homes that lit up Eau Claire. Even though it was only in operation from 1877 to 1901, contaminents still remain underground.
"All of the contamination is either covered by sod, grass, or about 4 to 6 inches of top soil, so there is no direct human exposure to these materials," Wilder said.
A hydrogeologist tells us a state law requires the material to be removed when there is an immediate or potential threat to public health. In the case of Owen Park, it is a waiting game.
But the threat will not diminish, since the contaminents below ground do not disappear.
"The metals are there at the same concentration as they were in the 1800's when they dumped it out the back of the plant, and they'll be there 100 years from now," said Doug Joseph, a Hydrogeologist.
Phil Fieber says he expects the project to last through the winter, keeping in mind Owen Park's importance during the summer.
"Hopefully this project is done on time so we don't interrupt municipal band concerts or Blues Fest or any other special events important to this community during the summer," Fieber said.